Re: More lore, please.

Carl W. Conrad (
Fri, 8 Nov 1996 20:35:07 -0600

At 1:56 PM -0600 11/8/96, Randy Leedy wrote (inter alia):
>Regarding scholars of NT Greek in particular, was their scholarly
>work compatible with pastoral ministry? How did the truth of what the
>book they studied affect them personally? For example, Jesus
>identifies the Great Commandment as love for God and neighbor. Paul
>further describes this love as that which "is not puffed up, doth not
>behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own." Which of the legendary
>NT Greek scholars evinced genuine piety and humility, and were any of
>them notable for their lack of it? What can we learn from their
>example, whether good or bad? Can their experiences help us set
>realistic expectations for ourselves regarding our own level of
>scholarship this field?
>Surely there must be among our senior members a wealth of
>enlightening stories and anecdotes that can help the younger
>generation. We recently enjoyed a series of stories related to the
>subjects with which a NT scholar needs to be acquainted, but I don't
>recall stories along the lines I've described here. If there are any
>storytellers out there, you have an audience of at least one if you
>care to take the stage.

With all due respect for this endeavor to find not only the humorous
anecdote about the giants of NT scholarship--which is by far the easier
wish to satisfy--, but in particular, for edifying details about the
personal lives and hopefully saintly qualities of those giants, I am
inclined to wonder whether we really should look for the NT scholars to be
extraordinarily saintly. My own life's experience has been that those one
might with love and admiration call saints--although they too are sinners
like ourselves, are pretty rare and are to be found in all walks of life,
perhaps even more commonly among the more humble walks of life. I don't see
any reason to expect NT scholars to be more saintly because of the subject
matter of their scholarship. I've known scholars who WERE saintly, but not,
I think, because they were scholars. I'd like to believe that sound
learning makes a committed Christian a better one--but I'm not altogether
convinced that it is true; it is certainly true that it is not the sound
learning that makes a person a committed Christian but rather, I think, the
profound experience and acceptance of a love that one feels a compulsion to
express and share. Nor do I mean, on the other hand, to argue that the
great scholar is particularly likely to be a great sinner, although I
suspect that St. Augustine is not the only NT scholar ever to have plumbed
the depths of human sin as well as scaled the heights of NT scholarship.
All of which is to say that I think it is what makes the giants of NT
scholarship HUMAN that also makes them appealing to us and eager to hear
more lore of them.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR